New Delhi: As India prepares to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, World Cup Golden Ball winner and Mumbai City FC player Diego Forlan feels it is the right time for the country to focus and nurture young players.
"Two things you need to focus... Since you are hosting the the U-17 World Cup, it's important to focus on the youngsters. It's really a good age to form the team in the 15-17 age groups," Forlan said.
Forlan, 37, was named the Player of the Tournament of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where he took his country, Uruguayan to the semi-finals of the event.
The Uruguay striker is now a marquee player at Mumbai City FC in the ongoing third edition of the Indian Super League where he has scored four goals and taken his team to the semi-finals, a first time for the team in three editions.
"It's a good age to make them understand the game, so that the bases are covered. It's good to have good coaches. If you get a good coach in the national team you can pick good players. There are many talented players but they don't know how to use it in the proper way," he said.
Forlan had previously played for Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and several other clubs from South America to Europea to Japan.
Refusing to compare the players of the big clubs, he said: "Of course you can have better players in one place, but it does not matter. Mentality is very important. If you did not have the opportunity to go out it's difficult for you. I'm not saying compare, it's a very delicate word."
Asked to pick the talented Indian players in ISL, he showered praise on Mumbai City FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, defender Anwar Ali alongside the forward trio of CK Vineeth, Jeje Lalpekhula and India captain Sunil Chhetri.
"Amrinder is doing really well. Having an Indian under the bar is really good. He's done well and has given confidence to the team.
"In the backline, Anwar is standout. There're also Jeje, Sunil and Vineeth, strong players who know how to keep the ball and score goals. I'm not the coach so can't say much more."
Forlan further reiterated that it is important to instill the right kind of attitude.
"In Japan or South American you see physically strong players with good qualities but it's not enough if you do not have the right set of mentality.
"It's all about mentality. It's not about the quality always. You have to believe in yourself and not thinking that they're the best and they are not human or difficult to play against."
Forlan said in Uruguay they always believed in achieving the results despite being a small country.
"We are a small country, we don't have the best conditions like in Europe but we can play against the best teams and beat them. We know that we have a game when we go there. We don't feel less than anybody. Our strength is being together and our mentality," he said.
Hailing from an illustrious football family with grandfather Juan Carlos, a former footballer and manager, and father Pablo Forlan, he said he did not have any extra pressure.
"I just wanted to play football. I don't see that way. I was happy to be my father's son, enjoying most. I had no pressure. I did not want to do anything differently," he said.
Asked about his future plans, he admitted that it is difficult to get a full-time contract now.
"Now it's different and difficult as I'm getting old. Now nobody is going to give you a contract for a full season. You'll get a contract for a short period of time only."
Exaggerated as it may sound but Forlan said he does not see any reason why someone from the country cannot represent a big club like Real Madrid or Barcelona.
"Why not an Indian can play in Barcelona or Real Madrid in future, and be one of the best. It's not about country or flag. It's about you and the quality you possess. If you have the opportunity, you can see great players. Sometimes you can do with the right set of mentality. It's not about being European, Argentine or Brazilian."
With PTI Inputs